Runners are notorious for not wanting to stretch. You spend hours on the road and in the weight room but neglect the flexibility component of training. If this sounds like you, keep reading to find out why you may want to try yoga.
Yoga is a beneficial practice for runners to improve flexibility, correct muscular imbalances, decrease risk of injury and improve running efficiency. Although running and yoga seem to reside on opposite ends of the fitness spectrum, as a runner, there are many benefits you may experience through the practice of yoga. The sport of running, by nature, involves competition and high impact, jarring movements. Yoga is non-impact, and although physically rigorous, does not involve competition. A mind-body connection is one similarity both activities share. In addition to the mind, your physical body as a runner, stands to gain many benefits through practicing yoga.
"Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it," is a famous quote by the late, Steve Prefontaine. The quote reflects the competition and pain associated with running. As a runner, you have probably heard plenty of comments from non-runners about how bad running is for your body. Running itself is not dangerous. Rather, it is the skeletal and muscular imbalances caused by running that lead to injuries. To conceptualize the impact your body sustains, consider it is estimated that you absorb about four times your body weight on each foot when running. For the average mile, each foot may strike the ground 1000 times. For a run of ten miles, your body could absorb a cumulative 40,000 times your total body weight!
Your body learns to compensate for the imbalances through shortening and tightening your muscles. This compensation leads to decreased flexibility, limited range of motion, and overuse injuries. Without opposing movements to counteract the imbalances, extra stress is added to your skeletal and muscular systems. Common trouble spots for runners include knees, feet, ankles, hips, lower back, hamstrings and hip flexors.
Strength and Flexibility
Yoga helps runners counteract the detrimental effects of running, and keep you running longer and stronger. Regular practice will correct muscular imbalances which lead to injury. The increased flexibility experienced through yoga improves your stride length and running efficiency. Additionally, yoga will help you maintain proper knee alignment, thus allowing better shock absorption. A vigorous yoga practice will develop upper body and core strength as well as enhance stamina and endurance. The concentration developed in yoga assists with the mental toughness required during training runs and races.
Practice yoga daily and vary your level of intensity. A gentle therapeutic yoga session can speed recovery from a long run or tough race. A more vigorous practice can provide a form of cross training on a day off from running. The mental and physical benefits gained through yoga are well worth the time to enhance running longevity.
Are you a runner who also practices yoga? Are you a runner who has thought of or would like to try yoga? Do you want to learn how to get started with yoga? Please send any questions and share your thoughts or comments. I look forward to connecting with you!